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Lululemon Taps Into Korea’s Live Commerce Market

Lululemon Athletica Inc., dubbed the Chanel of yoga wear, is tapping into South Korea’s live commerce market, a move that industry watchers said seems to indicate its shift away from a direct-to-customer (D2C)-focused sales strategy.

The premium athleisure brand will sell its first collection of golf clothes, launched last year, on SSG.COM’s live commerce platform SSG.LIVE at 8 p.m. local time Aug. 23, according to Lululemon.

SSG.LIVE, under the country’s largest supermarket chain E-Mart Inc., is a live shopping channel where high-end global and beauty brands such as Yves Saint Laurent Beauty, Giorgio Armani Beauty and MAC Cosmetics have released their products before official launches.

Lululemon’s debut on a domestic live streaming platform comes one year after opening its first store in Korea.

A Lululemon official said its appearance on the SSG.LIVE program is intended to introduce its golf apparel rather than change its e-commerce strategy, focused on the online mall. 

Last year, it advanced into the golf and tennis apparel markets to broaden its customer base and overcome the seasonality of sales.

But some industry observers said the Canadian brand seems to be lowering its dependence on its offline and online sales channels, as has been done by its bigger rival Nike Inc.

Since its founding in 1998, Lululemon has focused on D2C sales, which once accounted for 60% of its overall sales.

It has been growing rapidly in the yoga clothes market in line with the rise of the athleisure market. Its product prices are two or three times costlier than those of its rival brands.

Its revenue leaped 24% on-year to $2 billion in the first quarter of this year. The company’s annual sales exceed 10 trillion won ($7.5 billion).

Last year, its sales in Korea swelled by 46% on-year to 85.3 billion won.

Lululemon is also aggressive about finding new sales channels in Europe. Last July, it began selling its products through Zalando, known as Europe’s Amazon.

But as inventories pile up amid persistent inflation, other D2C-focused sports brands are tapping retailers to expand their sales channels.

Nike is joining hands again with Macy’s and DSW, with which it had closed contracts in 2021.

Source: KED Global